RUI: Issues in Modeling Gravitational-Wave Sources

Project Details


With the installation of the upgraded Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) nearing completion, we expect to detect multiple gravitational-wave (GW) sources before the end of the decade. The primary goal of this award is to help ensure that we understand the GW signals as accurately as possible so that we can extract the best science from the expected detections. To do this, the gravitational-wave group at Montclair State University will implement improved waveform templates focusing on (i) binaries with precessing spins, (ii) tidal interactions in binaries containing neutron stars, and (iii) binaries with small orbital eccentricity. These improved templates will be used to quantify the amount of systematic bias in our estimates of the GW source parameters. This bias arises from uncertainties in our knowledge of the actual GW signal. We will also test the effectiveness of simple waveform templates that will search for the GW 'memory' effect. The memory is a non-oscillatory piece of the GW signal that is particularly evident in signals from supernova explosions and binary black hole collisions.

Gravitational wave detection provides a new and powerful way to observe some of the most violent events in the universe: the collisions of black holes and neutron stars. Observing these collisions with GWs will test our understanding of Einstein's theory of gravity and also probe aspects of nuclear physics that are inaccessible in terrestrial laboratories (such as the nature of ultra-dense matter). This award will advance the effort to model and understand these collisions with high accuracy. Much of this work will involve the education and training of undergraduate and graduate students. By applying physics, mathematics, computation, and critical thinking to an important scientific problem, these students will acquire technical skills that are in increasingly high demand. Black holes and general relativity continue to fascinate citizens of all ages. This award includes a strong educational outreach component that communicates the excitement of this field to K-12 students, undergraduates, and the general public.

Effective start/end date1/06/1331/05/17


  • National Science Foundation: $126,000.00


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